7 Tips to Qualify for the Boston Marathon

Qualifying for the prestigious Boston Marathon is the goal of many who run marathons. It's an honor, like qualifying for the Olympic trials, but one that's reachable by those of us who aren't professional runners.

Qualifying for Boston is a big debate among runners of all demographics and abilities. Some believe older runners have an advantage while others believe women have the advantage. In a recent study by Jim Fortner, only 10.4 percent of marathon finishers achieved their Boston qualifying time. However, more people qualify in different age groups. For example, the number of women ages 45 to 49 who qualify is 14.5 percent. The number of men ages 65 to 69 who qualify is 17 percent, while only 7.9 percent of men and women age 34 and younger qualify. Boston qualifiers (also known as BQs) are not biased against men or women, and they certainly aren't biased against older runners.

What's the BQ Standard?

Qualifiers of the Boston Marathon must meet the designated time standard that corresponds with their age group and gender. The qualifying times are based on the runner's age on the date of the Boston Marathon in which they are planning to participate.

Runners must run under these qualifying times effective as of September 24, 2011:

 18-34  3:05:00  3:35:00
 35-39  3:10:00  3:40:00
 40-44  3:15:00  3:45:00
 45-49  3:25:00  3:55:00
 50-54  3:30:00  4:00:00
 55-59  3:40:00  4:10:00
 60-64  3:55:00  4:25:00
 65-69  4:10:00  4:40:00
 70-74  4:25:00  4:55:00
 75-79  4:40:00  5:10:00
 80 and over
 4:55:00  5:25:00

Unlike previous years, an additional 59 seconds will NOT be accepted for each age-group time standard.

Tip 1: Try to Run Faster Than the Standard

Try to beat your qualifying time by as much as you can because the registration process is done on rolling admission, meaning the fastest qualifiers get to register first. Those who beat their qualifying times by 20 minutes get to register the first day it opens. Those who beat their time by 10 minutes or more get to register on day three. Runners who have beat their time by 5 minutes or more can register on day four.

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